In 1989, a group of concerned citizens created Community Partners of Dallas to assist Child Protective Services caseworkers in meeting the needs of abused and neglected children. The program was replicated throughout Texas resulting in Greater Texas Community Partners (GTCP) which is a partnership between Child Protective Services and participating Texas communities.
Prior to the establishment of Community Partners, caseworkers relied on their own personal resources or spent hours of precious time searching for resources to meet the needs of the children they served. State budgets do not contain enough funds to provide these children with basic needs such as clothes, baby formula, school supplies, and toiletries – or even a suitcase to carry their belongings. Community Partners facilitates private sector support to meet the needs of CPS children. The replicated program was such a success that other Counties soon followed suit. Of the 177 Counties in Texas, 144 boast Rainbow Rooms of their own. Additionally, there are another eleven Rainbow Rooms in the start up phase. A rainbow is a symbol of hope, and it seemed a perfect fit to call the original, Dallas room, the Rainbow Room. However; the name was not right for every group. After much thought and prayer, we in Van Zandt County, decided to choose a name that is more representative of what we do. We chose ABC Room for several reasons. When we think ABC's, we think of children. And in our case, ABC stands for A Better Childhood - and that is exactly what we are determined to provide the abused, neglected and at risk children of Van Zandt County. So, while we have changed our name -- our mission remains the same.
The Van Zandt County Rainbow Room was launched in 2001 under the care of the Child Protective Services Board. Shortly thereafter, CPS Board President Sharon Stehsel, and volunteer Karen Forester, attended a conference in Austin. That Greater Texas Community Partners Round Up conference, set these two women off on a mission to form a Community Partners group in Van Zandt County. Partnered with the Greater Texas Community Partners, the Rainbow Room would be able to offer so many more products and services to the children. The ABC Room is an in-house emergency resource center that distributes new items, such as clothing, diapers and formula, to clients of CPS caseworkers and investigators. The Van Zandt County Community Partners strives to ensure that our ABC Room is stocked with everything a child from newborn to 18 years old would need in an emergency situation.